Hyperion Records

Second album de Lilian, Op 149
in honour of Lilian Harvey, film star (1907-1968)

'Koechlin: Music for flute' (CDA66414)
Koechlin: Music for flute
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66414  Archive Service  
No 1?: Sérénade à l'étoile errante
No 2?: Swimming
No 3?: Les jeux du clown
No 4?: Le voyage chimérique

Second album de Lilian, Op 149
The peculiar array of instruments called for in the second Album de Lilian doubtless contributed to the 51-year delay before its first complete performance, in a recital I presented in Boston in 1986. The series consists of intermingled movements for piano solo, for flute and piano, and for the otherworldly combination of ondes martenot and harpsichord. Eschig’s catalogue of Koechlin’s works, overseen by someone more practical-minded—if less imaginative—than Koechlin, groups the pieces for flute and piano recorded here, and for piano solo, in independent suites. Perhaps if interest in Koechlin’s music continues to increase, the remainder of Op 149 will not have to wait another 51 years for its first recording.

The Sérénade à l’étoile errante (‘Serenade for the wandering [Film] Star’) appears at first to be a solo piano piece, but the flute soon steals in, imperceptibly at first, and then joins the piano in a leisurely exploration of Koechlin’s unique sound-world. Scenes in several of her movies display Lilian Harvey’s prowess as a swimmer. If the length of the lines Koechlin writes for the flute in ‘Swimming’ are any indication, she must also have had remarkable breath control. Like ‘Pleurs’ in the first Album, the angular but lucid music depicting ‘Les jeux du clown’ (‘The Clown’s Tricks’) owes more to Schoenberg than to anyone French. The flute offers a few mild interjections which ultimately fail to divert the clown from his mischief. The last of the four pieces, ‘Le voyage chimérique’ (‘The Dream Voyage’), sketches an imaginary trip to Hollywood. (As Lilian made at least three films in the United States in the early 1930s the dream may well have been Koechlin’s own.) The score is dotted with indications of our progress: starting in ‘the mists of sleep’ a train emerges from obscurity, flies over rooftops, and plunges into the ocean (the Atlantic, presumably) which it crosses underwater. The next indication on the rather condensed itinerary is that we are crossing Arizona; excitement mounts and the tempo presses ahead as we reach California. The arrival in Hollywood is marked by a grandiose paraphrase of The Star-Spangled Banner which would doubtless have Charles Ives sitting up in his grave, saluting. With a sudden deep tolling in the piano the adventure is past, wakefulness intervenes, and with a wistful piccolo melody, the dream evaporates into stillness.

from notes by Fenwick Smith © 1990

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDH55107 track 30
No 1?: Sérénade à l'étoile errante
Recording date
12 June 1989
Recording venue
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Recording producer
James Donohue
Recording engineer
Joel Gordon
Hyperion usage
  1. Koechlin: Music for flute (CDA66414)
    Disc 1 Track 30
    Release date: June 1990
    Deletion date: July 2003
    Archive Service
  2. Koechlin: Music for flute (CDH55107)
    Disc 1 Track 30
    Release date: July 2003
    Deletion date: September 2009
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Superseded by CDA66414
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